Do you want to be a musician or do you just want to learn to play songs?

Whenever I meet a student for the first time, I ask him some questions:

  1. Why do you want to learn to play the guitar?

  2. What is your favorite type of music?

  3. Who are your favorite artists / bands?

  4. Do you want to be a musician or do you just want to learn to play songs?

The last question always puzzles them. The common answer to that question is, “Is there a difference?”

The answer is “Yes, there is a big difference … to me anyway”.

If a student just wants to learn how to play songs, then I look up the songs they like, solve them in different keys, and then teach them the chords and whatever else they need to play the song exactly as they hear it. This method is very productive for them to learn to play the songs they love and to build a repertoire very quickly. In one year some of my students have learned between 30 and 50 songs.

I find that students who favor this method want quick results and don’t mind not knowing any music theory. Their goal is simply to play songs and have fun. I also have a lot of fun teaching them. One of the reasons I like this method is that I don’t have to go into great detail about music theory.

For those who want to be serious musicians, my approach is different. We build a repertoire of songs slowly, but they learn every detail about the music: reading, theory, scales, chords, arpeggios, improvisation, etc.

This method is very complicated and teaches the student how to think like a musician, how to listen like a musician, and how to perform like a musician. At the end of these courses, the student can enter any exam and pass it with great success, he will be able to choose any piece of music, read it and play it.

Becoming a musician is about more than just the ability to play the guitar and strum the chords. It is about knowing how chords work in conjunction with scales, it is about knowing how to use scales, chords and arpeggios to improvise and create new melodies and harmonies; it’s about knowing what a chord is just by listening to it.

I love this method. As I teach my students, I also learn a lot every time I review the material.

So, in my opinion, there is a big difference between just learning to play songs and becoming a musician. One is not better than the other. The end goal is just different. Which one would you choose?

Imagine being able to sit down at a piano and just PLAY – Ballads, Pop, Blues, Jazz, Ragtime, even amazing Classical pieces? Now you can… and you can do it in months not years without wasting money, time and effort on traditional Piano Lessons.

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